By M.I. Liaqath Ali
The last fourteen centuries have witnessed discovery of scientific principles that are already stated in Holy Qur’an and Hadith. Cosmology, Physics, Zoology, Geology, Astronomy, Embryology are some of the fields in which modern science has established the veracity of these scriptures. Immense indeed are such other truths standing still hidden, waiting to be uncovered in future. Let us here consider a few facts in the words of Allah and those of Prophet (Pbuh) that could be grasped by our lowly human intellect.
Virile Crops through Science
Science is deployed intensively today to fulfil the gigantic nutritional needs of global populace. Naturally-occurring cereal crops have long gestation times. The number of grains produced per single seed is too low to satisfy the hunger of the world’s billions. Agricultural scientists have now succeeded in using genetic engineering as a solution. The chromosomes in the plant cells are modified by ‘inter-mixing’ of varieties so as to produce highly virile crops. Such hybrid varieties have far lower crop times and enormous yield. They are hybridized further progressively and super-productive types are invented, each beating its predecessor in virility. The same process is practised on vegetables, fruits, commercial crops, poultry, meat animals, etc.
However, not every hybrid product turns out successful. Many would be just equally and even less productive. Still others result in sterile grains, perhaps excellent for feeding but certainly useless for propagation. Obviously, sterile seeds are not released for agriculture. Suppose at a point of time all future hybrid crop generations turn out to be sterile at the same time throughout the world? What will happen if all original, natural ones become out of existence due to hybridization process? The chances may be extremely slim but not too slim to be ignored, in view of the disastrous consequences.
A few decades ago the world’s agricultural scientists were seized of the enormity of the problem and set to work immediately and seriously. United Nations implemented the grand world-wide system of germplasm banks to preserve the original crop seeds of nature. Dr. M.S.Swaminathan, the Indian genius, contributed immensely to the formulation and implemention of this programme of far-sighted wisdom. In germplasm banks the world has now an insurance against the tough predicament of total hybrid crop failure. With God’s grace, we now can again start with germplasm in these banks and produce these supervirile hybrids faster, without repeating century long experimentations.
End of Human Race
The human genetic hybridization phenomenon taking place at present draw our attention to the destiny of humanity told in the scriptures of Islam, namely, Qur’an and Hadith. They say, all the human tribes in the world have their origin in Adam, the first-ever man. Today these races are intermingling. We are witnessing that the world’s population growth is fastest right now. Yet, the rate is quite slow in some countries. Population is stagnant in some others, even decreasing in a few others. Factors like breakdown of family and marriage systems, contraception and pregnancy termination programmes of governments, escalating negative attitude on progeny, growing
Homosexual way of life, famines, epidemics and outright genocides account for this. The Holy Prophet (Pbuh) foretold that population will slow down and reproduction will eventually stop. He said that the last child is to be born in China.
Population experts have observed that the proportion of women is rapidly decreasing. They have forecast that in the next century 100 million Chinese men will not find spouses. At this stage the human populace will slide down fast numerically since deaths will not be made good by births. Then, the Scriptures, say, the remaining population will be wiped off at once on the Last Day. “The Trumpet will be sounded, when all that are in the heavens and earth will swoon.........” (Sura Zumar 39:68)
Resurrection of Man
Allah and his Messenger (Pbuh) further say that all people born and dead in this world will be resurrected in the hereafter. Not only that. They will be given back their physical bodies! “And the Trumpet shall be blown.. And there will come forth every soul....” (Sura Qaf 50:20,21). “Does man think that we cannot assemble his bones? Nay, We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers.” (Sura Qiyamat 75:3,4)
Qur’an compares resurrection to dry, barren land being revived on receiving rains. It chides those who do not believe in resurrection. “O mankind! If ye have doubt about the Resurrection,...... and thou seest the earth barren and lifeless, but when we pour down rain on it, it is stirred (to left).... It is He who gives life to the dead and it is He who has power over all things”. (Sura Hajj 22:5,6)
The reasons for the alleged disbelief, a fine point at that, is as follows: For the dried out land to revive, seeds scattered on it are essential. Likewise, from which will the multitude of humanity find their origin in the afterworld? Holy Prophet (Pbuh) has already provided us with the answer, related below:
Human Germplasm Bank
There is good enough reason to conclude that God saves a single seed (or a few) from every human being who dies and preserves them in His human ‘germplasm bank.’ This seed could well be a lone cell from the person’s physical body. On being enquired by his companions, Holy Prophet (Pbuh) clarified that people will be raised again from his last vertebra (preserved for the purpose). It is immaterial whether the corpse rots in earth, disintegrates in water, gets incinerated, withers in air or gets fragmented in space into very plasma state. It is quite well within God’s powers to save a single cell as seed for redevelopment in the afterworld.
Revival of Dead Earth
Indonesia’s volcano Mt. Krakatoa erupted in the last century. A portion of the Island siting the volcano vanished and the rest got covered in 200 meters of fiery lava. All plant and animal life evaporated in toto. But in time the Island was not only revived but flourished by rains. Vegetation and animal life arrived by air and sea. Krakatoa is the standing demonstration of God’s analogy to resurrection. A critical look at Kalahari Desert will help us appreciate the phenomenon of revival-resurrection-better. The desert sprawls several hundred square kilometres in Southern Africa.
Resurrection of Aquatic life
Summer makes Kalahari desert dry up totally. No tree ever grows. Plants (mostly grasses, herbs and bushes) and animal life that get trapped perish and mix in air as dust. No water or mud is found for depths of hundreds of feet. Cereal grains if dropped might instantly get fried in heat. Yet, when Allah’s grace of rain descends a sea-like lake forms and everything changes. The expanse of hundreds of kilometres around the lake gets transformed into a veritable paradise thickly packed with colourful flowers, myriad species of insects, reptiles and birds. The lake gets loaded with succulent fish and other aquatic life. Millions of ducks, storks and other aquatic birds arrive and camp. They feed on fish, multiply and thrive.
When the season is over the lake dries and shrinks progressively. The birds migrate away. The lake eventually vanishes. The chicks, eggs and fish perish and wither away when summer arrives. The extinction-resurrection cycle repeats itself endlessly.
Seed Bank for Fish
Th question that arises is ‘where do the fish come from’. For, they cannot walk to the lake nor can they come flying. Whatever fish were trapped earlier, perished to dust. For a long time this intrigued the scientists but they have come up with the answer recently. The fish are born from the eggs on the lake bed only! These species of fish are rather unique to Kalahari Desert. Their eggs get dessiccated in the hellish summer but do not get put out or wither away. Like seeds of grain, on getting soaked in rain water, they germinate into zillions of fish!
Tissue Culture in the hereafter
Upon dawning of the hereafter, it appears, God will release the human cells, the seeds from His Germplasm Bank and allow them to grow. It is possible for him to reconstruct the whole human being from a single cell, it may be surmised, using tissue culture technique. The chromosomes in every cell of life form, be it vegetation or animal, contain its ‘programme’ of physical and behavioral attributes in full, say the scientists. Today, tissue culture is employed worldwide for enabling quick and large scale crop propagation, especially for implementation of newly developed strains. In tissue culture the first cell divides into two, then the two into four and so on. This is called ‘ cell division’ in biology. For agricultural applications tissue culture operation is carried out in laboratories on gigantic scales. (Incidentally, cell division is the process by which a fertilized egg develops into foetus and grows in the womb.) It must be noted that any and every cell of an individual in the bone, muscle, skin, etc equally contain the individual’s attributes in its chromosomes.
It is now claimed that scientists have cloned a sheep. The ‘copy’ animal is 100% identical with its original in characteristics. Though the feat claimed has genetic engineering as its basis, it was not based on single cell tissue culture process.
Original form on Resurrection
We mentioned that the chromosomes of the each cell contain the individual’s original, natural attributes such as complexion, height and voice. Artificially-made changes do not get registered in chromosomes, such as hair setting or curling, facial modifications by plastic surgery and handicaps caused by accidents. (They do not get passed down to descendants.) Therefore when God resurrects an individual from his ‘last vertebra’, he will get back only the original physical and mental configuration that belonged to him in this world. Holy Prophet (Pbuh) has indicated this aspect by saying that man will be raised uncircumcised in the hereafter!
Circumcision was commenced by Prophet Ibrahim by his Covenant to Almighty. It was observed by every Israelite right upto Prophet Eesa. For this reason Jews observe it till date as a compulsory religious rite. Prophet Ismael and his descendants, i.e. the Arabs, practised it even during their idolatrous Dark Age. Prophet Muhammed (Pbuh) was himself circumcised in early childhood. Muslims adhere to the practice for the reason of its being his tradition i.e. Sunnah. They treat it almost as Wajib (essential) religious rite. The fact that the result of such an important rite will be missing in the afterworld lends credence to the idea of tissue culture as a means for resurrection.
Holy Prophet (Pbuh) also observed that when humanity is resurrected they will be naked. If circumcision, relevant to the physique will not be reproduced on resurrection, is it not obvious that culturing human tissue will simply not generate non-bodily feature like clothes?
The most tremendous point in support of tissue culture hypothesis lies in the Qur’anic verse 75:4 quoted earlier: “Nay, We are able to put in perfect order the very tips of his fingers.” What is there in tips of his fingers? They contain delicate system of lines which are absolutely unique to each individual. Fingerprints of no two individuals are identical, so much so that they are used by modern world to represent identities of individuals in legal and other documents of highest significance. They are so unambiguous and indisputable that computerized fingerprint records of criminals are kept all over the world. If they are rubbed off or peeled out of fingers, they will reappear identically when new skin builds up healthily. When God points out that finger lines would be identically reproduced on resurrection, the only known process guaranteeing it is cloning by tissue culture.
God and his Messenger best know the truth!
(The author is the Director, Dr. Ambedkar Institute of National Productivity Council, Chennai.)